RED DEER — Over 100 CUPE members from across Alberta participated in the 2015 Weeklong School at Red Deer College May 25-29th.
Four workshops were provided this year: Collective Bargaining (facilitated by National Representatives Tony Miotti and Jennifer Chretien), Parliamentary procedures and Public Speaking (facilitated by National Representative Rachna Singh) and two Steward Learning Series courses facilitated by Rodger Oakley, Rosanne Pazuik, Aneen Albus and Stephanie Lustig.
Acting Education Representative Audrey Barr was enthusiastic about this year’s group of students. “It was a fantastic group who were completely engaged in learning to assist their Local members when they finished the week.”
CALGARY – The ‘Orange Chinook’ that washed over Alberta on May 5th included the election of CUPE Research Representative Ricardo Miranda as MLA for the riding of Calgary Cross.
Miranda was one of 54 NDP MLAs elected as part of Rachel Notley’s surprise victory in the Alberta provincial election. Miranda won a squeaker, defeating PC star candidate, and former Calgary Police Chief Rick Hanson by only 100 votes.
Previously considered Canada’s most conservative province, Albertans surprised pundits defeating a 44 year old government and electing a Premier and party committed to better health and education funding, fighting climate change, a higher minimum wage and a review of the provinces energy royalty system.
A parent of two, Miranda worked as a flight attendant with Air Canada for 15 years, serving as President of CUPE 4095, joining CUPE’s staff in 2012. With CUPE, he worked as a National Representative, researcher and as an organizer, helping to bring employees into the CUPE family.
CUPE Alberta President Marle Roberts today said the NDP government’s education funding announcement is good news for students, their families, and workers.
“With 12,000 new kids entering the system in the fall, we need this additional funding,” Roberts said. “This will ensure we have well-maintained schools, with the support students need.”
Under the previous government, boards were ordered to cut their budgets, Roberts said. Boards were also told no new provincial funding would be available for the next three years, despite Alberta’s soaring enrolments.
“The previous government cut the amount of funding available to be spent on each student,” Roberts said. “This would have meant increased class sizes, more portable classrooms, program and staff cuts, less money on maintenance and student support – it would have been a disaster for students, for the learning environment, and for Alberta’s investment in our future.”
Canadian Union of Public Employees Alberta President Marle Roberts today thanked Premier-designate Rachel Notley for keeping a campaign promise to support Alberta’s education system.
“By extending the deadlines for school boards to submit their annual budgets, the provincial government has provided critical breathing space for boards to prepare for the thousands of new students coming into our system,” Roberts said. “We are pleased to see the Premier-designate take this matter seriously and respond to it as a priority.”
With more than 12,000 new students entering the system this fall, school boards have been scrambling to figure out how to supply the classroom space, teachers, and support staff necessary. The Calgary Board of Education contemplated reducing its cleaning operations, legal services, and other supports to manage the shortfalls. We have seen cut backs of support staff in many schools all across this Province.
“It’s obvious to Albertans that we need to inject more funding into our schools,” Roberts said.
“I am very happy that Premier-designate Notley is keeping her campaign promise to make this happen.”
“I am thrilled that Albertans chose a government which supports public health care and education, strong and sustainable municipalities, and fair treatment for workers,” Roberts said.
“And I am excited that 26 of the 53 MLAs elected to the government caucus are women, the highest percentage of any government in the country,” Roberts said.
The PC government, first elected four years before Richard Nixon resigned as President of the US, had entered the election with a budget that slashed health services, failed to provide schools or staff for the increasing numbers of students this year, and threatened to erode the social fabric of the province through cuts. They also threatened to bring in regressive essential services legislation and anti-labour bargaining tactics.
“We look forward to working with a government that cares about the same things Alberta’s working families care about,” Roberts said. “Fairness, respect, accountability, and justice.”
CUPE Alberta President: Death of City of Edmonton worker affects us all
CUPE Alberta President Marle Roberts today said workers across the province are grieving after the death of a City employee and CUPE Local 30 member from an accident last week.
“I join with my union brothers and sisters across Alberta in offering our deepest condolences to this young worker’s family, and to his friends and co-workers,” she said.
“When one of us is hurt, we all feel the loss,” Roberts said. “We all pause and think about the times we’ve had near accidents, and about how our families would be affected.”
Roberts pointed out that April 28 was the International Day of Mourning for workers killed or injured on the job.
“We gathered this week to remember those we’ve lost over the past year,” Roberts said. “We also recognized the importance of improving workplace safety. It’s said that workplace accidents are almost always preventable, so it’s especially tragic when they still happen”.
“We have lost a friend, a brother, a worker, and a valuable member of our community. We are diminished by our loss,” Roberts said.
Statement from CUPE Alberta President Marle Roberts for the
National Day of Mourning on April 28th
The Canadian Union of Public Employees established the first National Day of Mourning in 1984. We did so to remember those brothers and sisters killed or injured on the job and to dedicate ourselves to fighting for safer work environments.
CUPE’s idea was quickly adopted by the Canadian Labour Congress and by other unions, and is now recognized in over 80 countries world-wide.
Today, we remember our own.
CUPE 4946 member Dellis Partridge was killed at work during his first shift as a bus driver with the Peace River School Division.
CUPE 30 member Harl Hawley, a pool service employee with the City of Edmonton, passed away suddenly while working at the Grand Trunk Recreational Centre.
Our thoughts are with their families, friends, and co-workers today.
Just last week, another CUPE 30 member was badly injured while unloading a City of Edmonton dump truck. His condition is still critical, and we hope his recovery is successful.
With these members in mind, we renew our commitment to our right to health and safety and to respect on the job.
The National Day of Mourning was born of the values of the union movement, to mourn the dead and the sick and the injured.
But let us fight, too, for the living. Let us fight for safe workplaces. Every day.
(April 18, 2015) Canadians attending rallies in Calgary and Edmonton to protest Bill C-51 – the federal government’s new “security” law – heard from CUPE Alberta President Marle Roberts and Treasurer Glynnis Lieb.
“The Canadian Union of Public Employees believes in democratic rights to free speech and to assembly,” Roberts said at the Calgary rally. “C-51 threatens to paint anyone who opposes this repressive government as a terrorist, with the aim of scaring people away from dissent.”
Speaking in Edmonton, Lieb said the law would allow government agencies like the health department to share personal information with the RCMP.
“Your financial records, your health records – they all become fodder for government agents,” Lieb said. “What was once considered to be the stuff of conspiracy theories is becoming the law of the land in Canada.”
Public support for C-51 has dropped to less than 33 per cent across Canada, as citizens learn more about the bill and its impacts.
“So far, only the NDP is opposing this bill in the House of Commons,” Roberts said. “We’re calling on CUPE members to write their MPs and call on them to kill this legislation.”
“C-51 must be stopped,” Roberts said.
Twenty-six Fort McMurray airport custodial staff learned today that they are being fired, their jobs out-sourced to a company that recruits and hires temporary foreign workers.
“We’re in shock,” CUPE Local 1505 President Les Collins said. “Temporary foreign workers aren’t supposed to displace hard-working Canadians who want to keep their jobs.”
According to the Bill’s General Cleaning website, custodial staff will be paid only $14.50/hour, the equivalent of $30,160 per year before deductions. The Province of Alberta says the average cost of living in Fort McMurray is $65,000.
“Offering to pay workers considerably less than half of the cost of living is unconscionable,” Collins said. “This is simple exploitation.”
Bill’s General Cleaning has a sister company, which shares an office address and phone number, called Bill’s Recruiting. They specialize in recruiting and placement of temporary foreign workers (TFWs).
CUPE Alberta President Marle Roberts is calling on the federal Minister of Labour to demand an investigation into the use of TFWs in this case.
“We want to know why long-term employees are being put out of work, and TFWs being brought in,” Roberts said. “How does this support the Canadian economy?”
“Our workers went through intensive security screening in order to work at an airport,” Collins said. “Safety is a major concern. How can we be sure of the backgrounds of people who have been in Canada only a few days?”
CUPE members and supporters intend to picket the airport and to contact municipal, provincial, and federal politicians to reverse the privatization plan.
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Contact: David Loan
DL/vt COPE #491